Davos-2022
Davos-2022
Davos-2022
Davos-2022
economy | IST

How safe is food in India?

Mini

While category wise break up is not available, state-wise break-up reveals that Mizoram, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand have the highest adulteration rates.

My relatives were in Mumbai for two days and all they wanted to do was eat the city’s famous Vada Pav and Chaat. I tagged along and got tempted to indulge in Mumbai’s delicious street food, knowing at the back of my mind that something could go wrong. But I was perfectly fine and my stomach was having a good day. A few days later, I ate at one of Mumbai’s fine dining restaurants and the next day I was sick. It got me thinking – how safe is the food that we eat? Is there a way one can judge the level of contamination from the source of consumption? Are there other external factors that play a role on food adulteration or the quality of food that we consume?
I came across some hard-hitting data from the annual report of India’s food regulator, the FSSAI. The data was represented in the form of ‘annual public laboratory testing reports for the year 2017-18.’ The data shows that 99,353 food samples were analysed by the public labs in the year 2017-18 with an aim to check on adulteration and misbranding. These samples were collected across almost all food categories right from loose to packaged commodities. Data shows that close to a quarter or 25 per cent of the samples analysed were found to be adulterated or misbranded. Compare this to the data in previous annual reports of the food regulator. In 2012-13, testing revealed that the adulteration rate of food samples collected stood at 15 per cent, and this number has constantly been increasing over the years.
While category wise break up is not available, state-wise break-up reveals that Mizoram, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand have the highest adulteration rates. States like Arunachal Pradesh, Goa and Chandigarh have the lowest adulteration rates in 2017-18.
Do these alarming adulteration rates mean that the food we consume is unsafe? As a worried consumer, I posed this question to the FSSAI. Explaining this data, the FSSAI said that the increase in adulterated or misbranded samples means that officers are conducting more targeted sampling or are aware of the pockets where high adulteration rates could prevail. This 25 percent does not mean that a quarter of the food available in India is adulterated or misbranded. The authority in its capacity has been working on increasing manpower, resources and having better structured inspections to tackle food adulteration.
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